Nicole was more than flustered. Her thoughts were splatter paint on the inside of her brain, her hormones boiling over. She hadn’t had too much to drink. She’d just had too much to think.
He was - well, he was Jonathan Toews more than anything. A few weeks ago, meeting him once would have sounded impossible. Forget twice. Now Nicole didn’t know what was worse, that he’d openly propositioned her or that he looked so insanely fucking capable of making her regret it either a yes or a no. Yes and she’d lose Viktor - definitely not worth it. Now Nicole’s spine prickled with the knowledge that Jonathan Toews couldn’t take no for an answer.
What an asshole!
Jonathan Toews was supposed to be a hero, not a horndog. He was supposed to be the gentleman and he’d come at her with not even so much as an innuendo or double entendre. Like she was standing on a street corner. The fact that he’d come after her at all....
What the fuck? Have some class! she screamed internally. Class that you could put away when you needed to do some very unladylike things, like right now.
Viktor raced across town, the low sleek body of his sports car eating up the miles as if it couldn’t get anywhere fast enough. She knew how the car felt. She needed to be away from that place, away from what it made her think about doing.
Viktor sensed that Nicole was keyed up. But she didn’t offer and he didn’t ask - he’d already heard the only question he cared about, and they were headed back to his place. Seeing Fiona with Jon still twisted like a blade, though not so deeply when Nicole was around. It could have been worse - Jon was nowhere to be seen most of the night, almost as if he were avoiding Viktor.
The elevator door closed behind them in the parking garage. Nicole watched the buttons; the lobby never lit up. No one else was getting in. But she’d be getting off - multiple times. She turned to Viktor, all brawny shoulders and perfect teeth. He was breathtaking and even admiring another man was a sin beyond imagining. Nicole brushed his cheek, looking into those storm-colored eyes, and kissed him. She kissed right through his initial kiss, the casual kiss, until Viktor realized that even in the elevator, she meant business. He parted his lips, tasted her tongue, and let Nicole push him against the wall. Her taut body pressed urgently to his, so small by comparison but with plenty he had left to explore. She tasted faintly of liquor and lip gloss, of a long night cut short by the desire to be alone together.
Whatever was into her, he liked it.
Nicole pushed her thigh against his crotch, her dress slipping scandalously high, and swiveled her hips.
Shameless, she told herself. But her blood was up like a cat on a hot tin roof. She wanted something, badly, and she knew right where to get it.
Viktor barely let go of Nicole to open his front door. Inside they were a tumble of arms and feet, trying to move even as they were kissing. He caught her fast against the mail table; She slipped an inch, knocking the tray of envelopes and keys all over the floor. They were gone before the noise died. He dragged her along and she stumbled in her sexy shoes. So he changed direction, into the kitchen and lifted her right out of her heels, setting her ass down on the counter. Then he worked his hands up under her dress, pushing and scrunching, till she could spread her legs wide enough for him to stand between them.
“I’d ask what’s got you all turned on,” he said as Nicole kissed her way down his throat, “but I really don’t care.”
She felt the vibration of laughter beneath his skin. There was no point in hiding how she felt, but Nicole was not about to tell Viktor why. His friend hit on her. The guy who ruined his last relationship was trying to ruin another. His captain was putting himself before the team.
“All those people in the club,” she offered, their lips almost touching, “and all I wanted was you.”
The lust disappeared, just for a moment, and Nicole saw what she was looking for in Viktor’s expression: faith. He trusted her, though he hardly knew her. Nicole smiled back and promised she would earn that, and keep it.
“This isn’t working.” She wiggled herself to the edge of the counter, grinding against Viktor’s lap in the process, then slowly arched her back and squeezed down in front of him, making sure her thigh, pelvic bone and hip all pressed hard and slow against his crotch as she dropped to her feet. Much shorter now but will full body contact, she looked up at him.
“Jesus.” He caved in, threw her over his shoulder and stormed toward the bedroom. Seconds later she was flat on her stomach, Viktor’s huge form over her as he unzipped the dress from between her shoulders. He pulled it down, she rolled onto her back.
Just panties and a strapless bra, that’s all she wore. Viktor tore his shirt off and dove on top of her. He pulled the cup of her bra down, nipple already hard, and he twisted it beneath his tongue. His knees pushed her thighs apart, he hooked the gossamer thread of her panties away.
“Baby,” she said as his thick fingers worked against her secret place. That floppy blond hair tickled her skin. Viktor swiped a fingertip between her folds, then again, then pushed hard until two fingers were buried inside her.
“GodohGod,” she moaned.
He looked up to see her biting her lip against the pressure of him forcing her open. It looked almost as good as it felt.
“You’re so wet.”
She chuckled weakly. “Have you seen what you look like? I’m this wet all the time around you.”
He slipped down her body. If she wanted it, she could have it. Viktor pulled his fingers away and quickly replaced them with his tongue. Nicole said something really x-rated. He pushed between her folds, the taste of her making his head spin, and drove his tongue inside her. Nicole twisted and rolled so he knew he was doing it right. Tracing around the outside, Viktor flicked his fingers against her clit.
“You can’t,” she panted, “be good at this too.” Pant. “It’s not fair.”
But he was better than good at it. Neither his fingers nor his mouth ever left her soft, swollen skin. He lost himself in enjoying it - the sounds she made, the taste of her. She was completely at his mercy and it made him feel invincible. Nicole begged him to stop so of course he went harder, faster, and she fell silent with the pressure building between her hips. He had no intention of stopping while there was anything left of her.
Nicole closed her eyes and came almost silently. A star burst and her back arched, twisting her off the mattress. Viktor’s weight was all that kept her from levitating..
He waited until she crumpled, breathing ragged, before he pressed a kiss to the inside of her thigh and dragged himself up next to her. Nicole was mostly dead. Maybe more. There were tears in her eyes and almost no oxygen reaching her brain. Viktor was simmering. He’d been hard as a rock, desperate for her, since the first touch. He knew that once he got started, it wouldn’t go gently into the night. He wanted her now the way she’d wanted him - urgently, greedily, immediately.
She rolled weakly into his arms, brushing his erection. Viktor hissed at the contact
“I think,” Nicole said against his chest, “you missed a spot.”
Viktor woke up sore. It was finally morning, bright sunshine behind the curtains telling him that enough was enough.
He and Nicole had gone at it for hours, well past the middle of the night. They peaked an retreated, rallied and climbed again. He’d come at least four times - a record for him. As if to offer a challenge, his cock twitched against Nicole’s thigh where she lay sleeping in his embrace.
Instead Viktor let his head drop and considered what it was he’d been trying to prove. Nicole wanted him so much - that simple return of desire made him crazy. It was so unlike with Fiona, where he’d doubted every turn. Nicole shifted and he squeezed her tight. Nothing was coming between them, Viktor would make sure of that.
He woke Nicole gently, earning a sleepy kiss that made him want to never leave the bed.
“It should be illegal how good you look in the morning,” she said, blinking her eyes into focus. Nicole couldn’t help but smile. Viktor’s hair stuck up all over the place, his five o’clock shadow was past six and there was a small dark purple spot at the base of his throat.
“Oops,” she laughed. “I think I bit you.”
He flipped her down onto her back and growled, nuzzling into her neck. She squealed and flailed helplessly, wrapping her arms around his back. Viktor kissed her again, eyes open.
Nicole let her lids flutter closed. There was only so much she perfection she could handle.
Viktor went down to his car to get Nicole’s bag - in their haste to get upstairs, they’d left it behind. When he came back she was wearing one of his faded Hawks t-shirts and nothing else, filling a glass with water for the rose he’d given her. That stick-straight brown hair moved like a wave as she turned and caught him staring. He stayed on his side of the island - any closer and they’d never leave the house.
Finally he dropped her at the stationary shop and made it to practice without even being late. Too bad he’d spent all his energy overnight. The head lights seemed especially bright, the noise of the locker room deafening. He craved the peaceful comfort of his room, his bed, his girl. He hadn’t felt that in a long time.
“Good night?” Seabrook asked loudly, wiggling his eyebrows. “You’re all mooney over something.”
On cue, like the comedy duo they were, Duncan started singing “Devil in a Blue Dress.”
Instead of brushing them off, Viktor just smiled broadly and let them chirp. They’d seen Nicole, they knew he had something good. And the boys wouldn’t joke if they didn’t like her. It wasn’t until they’d tired of the game and moved on to making fun of another player that Viktor sensed someone behind him.
“You left early last night,” Jon said. He wore everything but his sweater, and his pads made him a little bigger than Viktor. The captain still had that baby face, though Viktor knew it masked a lot of grown-up secrets. Still things had been strained since Fiona and Viktor was more eager than ever to put it all behind him. If Jon wanted to be friendly, he could too.
“Yeah, we were tired. Nicole had to open the store this morning.”
Jon nodded. “She’s nice, I like her.”
“Thanks.” Viktor figured it wasn’t easy for Jon to be wrong, and this was as close to an apology as he was going to get. “Me too.”
“We should go out, us, Nicole, Fiona. Fiona likes her too.”
Don’t, Viktor told himself. He schooled his features into perfect neutrality, as if Jon had suggested they sit instead of stand on the bus. It only took a moment for the initial shock to wear off. As much as Viktor didn’t want to spend time with Jon and Fiona together, being a Blackhawk really meant there was no way around it. He should just do it now, get comfortable with it, use his feelings for Nicole to protect himself from everything else. It was a necessary evil.
“Yeah, that’s a good idea. I know Nicole likes Fiona.”
“Let’s surprise them,” Jon suggested, looking at the roll of tape he tossed in one hand. “Make it easy on them.”
Something about Jon’s intensity was unsettling, as if he had the power of suggestion over you. Viktor found himself agreeing again. A surprise, sure. The girls would never expect it so close to Valentine’s Day. How about Thursday night?
“Okay. Cool,” Viktor said.
Jon smiled and stalked away.
Nicole leaned against the doorway in her bathroom, watching Viktor brush his teeth. Everything seemed so small when he was there, as if he were a giant using normal-sized tools. Even the sink was too low, he had to lean over extra far to rinse. Not that Nicole minded, standing behind him admiring his backside in a towel.
“If Monica were here, she’d die.”
Viktor shook his ass. “Where is she again?”
“Visiting her parents in Texas.”
“So,” he caught her eye in the mirror, “what you’re saying is that you’re alone here again tomorrow night too.”
Nicole laughed. She had no problem staying at Viktor’s luxury apartment almost every night, but sometimes it was nice to be in your own space. A few times she’d worn yesterday’s clothes to work again because she hadn’t planned ahead.
“Maybe,” she teased.
Viktor turned and faced her, barely a step away, nearly naked. Nicole was always amazed when he thought he could talk to her at a time like that, as if she could even hear him over the size of his chest.
“If you want a night to yourself, you know you can tell me.” His voice was soft and a little concerned. “I can make it one night without you.”
Swoon, one half of her brain said.
Who swoons over a guy saying ‘sleep alone tonight?’ the other half, still stuck on his nudity, countered.
Nicole knew things had gotten serious really quickly. Even though they’d waited to sleep together, it had been just a few weeks since she met Viktor in that coffee shop. They were together every night he was in Chicago.
She lifted onto her toes and kissed him. “Nope. I need all the nights with you I can get.”
Viktor gave her a dazzling smile, pulled her into the bathroom and shut the door.
The next night was game night, and with Monica out of town Nicole was trying something new. She checked her ticket twice and moved down the staircase in the 100 level.
“Nicole!” Abby called. Next to her, Fiona waved brightly. Nicole made her way to them, wondering if she should have worn something more dressy than a vintage Hawks hoodie and jeans. Luckily both women we wearing jeans and sweaters, if not any team gear.
“I’m so glad you’re sitting with us!” Abby hugged her, creating that slightly awkward moment where Nicole and Fiona didn’t know how to greet each other. Pushing it away, Nicole hugged the dark-haired Irish girl too. If Viktor had liked her, she must be great. And Fiona’s loss had been Nicole’s gain.
It’s not her fault her boyfriend is a dick, Nicole kept her thoughts to herself. She probably doesn’t even know.
“Thanks for letting me sit with you. Viktor’s been getting us seats in the club level, but my roommate’s out of town.”
Abby rolled her eyes. “He’s been keeping you away from us, doesn’t want us gossiping. Too late now!”
Abby’s enthusiasm was contagious. They chatted animatedly, swapping a little gossip about the guys and talking about plenty of things not related to boyfriends or hockey. When the game started, Nicole was relieved to find they were both as into the match as she was. After all, the Hawks still hadn’t won in what seemed like a lifetime. At the end of the second period, they were down by a goal to Calgary.
“I’m tired of losing,” Fiona said with a sigh. “It makes Jon an asshole.”
“Fiona’s only been around since after the Cup. The pressure to win is a lot more,” Abby explained. “And yeah, it makes everyone an asshole.”
“Not Viktor,” Fiona leaned forward in her seat and looked at Nicole. “At least I wouldn’t think so.”
Nicole shrugged. “He’s upset, but I think he handles it pretty well.”
Abby put an arm around Nicole’s shoulders. “That’s because he’s got you, baby.”
They turned their attention back to the game but Nicole’s mind wandered. Maybe that’s why Jon had been acting crazy - he was angry about losing, acting out. The more they talked, the more sure Nicole was that Fiona had no idea Jon had invited her for a threesome.
Good chance he never meant for it to be three, Nicole thought. Jon didn’t seem like the type to share, not with anyone.
Then he scored. Jonathan Toews with a beautiful goal when the team was down, late in the game, just when he’s needed most. It was a brute strength steal of the puck with just enough on the shot to put it under the crossbar. That was the Jonathan Toews she expected - the team hero, the clutch guy. Nicole screamed and hugged along with everyone else.
Maybe a win is what we all really need.
And win they did. The Hawks got two more late goals and beat the Flames to end their six-game losing streak. The relief was palpable inside the United Center. Nicole followed Abby and Fiona to the lounge where other families were waiting. A few of the women she knew and a few kids were introduced. Viktor was one of the first players into the room.
“Thank God,” he whispered, barely audible, into her ear. Then he kissed it just as lightly. He felt invigorated, like he could run home. “Can we please go sleep for a week?”
Nicole lay awake for a while after Viktor fell asleep, listening to him breath and looking at the ceiling in her bedroom. His feet stuck off the end of her bed but Viktor swore he didn’t care. Now he was on his stomach, one arm under his head and his bare back showing as he snored lightly against her pillow.
It was the first night since they’d started having sex that they hadn’t been intimate. Viktor collapsed into bed like a puppet with its strings cut, giving Nicole a glimpse of how invested he really was in every game. Sheer conditioning and determination had kept them going through six awful road games. Now the win came like a catharsis and Viktor’s system needed to reboot.
She squeezed in close and kissed his shoulder. “Night, gorgeous.”
Two days later, Nicole hooted out loud as Viktor pulled into a parking lot.
“Oh, you’re going down! You don’t even know!”
Viktor found a spot and stepped out of the car. The night was bitterly cold and he waited for Nicole, tucking her against his side and holding her close as they crossed to the front door of the pool hall.
“You wish,” he laughed.
Inside the huge square room were three rows of pool tables, five deep. There was a bar at either end and a station of racks and cues along the middle of the back wall. Triangle-shaped lights hung low over each table, illuminating the green velvet. The crack of cue balls striking rang in the air.
Nicole stepped inside, detaching herself from Viktor and shrugging off her coat. She wore skinny jeans and boots with a v-neck sweater - he’s said they were going “out” but not wear.
Viktor watched as she straightened her top. She looked so good effortlessly. A number of heads turned, giving Nicole the head-to-toe sweep. They quickly turned away when they got to Viktor.
Nicole was about to move toward the pay station, but Viktor stepped across her path and down the row of tables. She wove between, following him, then stopped so short she was nearly speared by a player lining up a shot.
“Fuck,” she said under her breath.
Viktor got to the table and reached across to shake Jon’s hand. Fiona gave him a small, quick hug. He was still a little uncomfortable around her, and kept his eyes on Jon the whole time. Toews didn’t seem to notice.
“Surprise,” Viktor said. Nicole sidestepped a cue stick and made her way over.
“Hi,” she tried to sound normal.
“Hi Nicole,” Fiona hugged her too. “We’re the victims of an ambush, I’m afraid. They think they’re quite clever.”
“Yeah, surprise!” Nicole said.
She risked a glance at Jon. He was staring like he was trying to melt her with a magnifying glass. It made her shoulders rise with tension. He wore a colorful plaid button-down shirt, open to his chest over a white tee. It was rolled and pushed up his forearms, which looked about the size of Nicole’s thighs. Dark jeans did nothing to disguise that killer ass. Fiona looked stunning in a long gauzy top, jeans and ballet flats. They were a spectacular couple.
“Nice to see you, Nicole,” he said with a nod.
Nicole closed her eyes to keep from screaming.
“Let’s get our stuff!” Viktor’s hand was warm and solid as a rock. He sized up cues as if he knew what he was doing, pretending to test them out. Nicole played right along. He promised himself they would have fun tonight, that he could be fine with Jon and Fiona, because he had Nicole.
I’d rather have Nicole, he reminded himself.
“Jon’s really competitive,” he warned her. “He’s a little scary.”
Nicole focused on Viktor, telling herself to be cool, and said in a voice dripping with sarcasm, “I had no idea.”
Once they got rolling, Nicole was surprised to find herself having a lot of fun. She even started to relax a little. Viktor was pretty good at pool and never more than an arm’s length away. They won the first game and lost the second. Fiona handled angle shots well, but Jon had all the momentum. They were funny too, and it was easy to be around them. There were only a few times Nicole caught Jon watching her, or her own eyes lingering on Jon’s forearms. Immediately she turned to Viktor and admired something about him - there was plenty to choose from. She smiled to know all that was going home with her.
“Let’s switch teams,” Jon suggested.
Viktor looked at Nicole. He didn’t want to make her uncomfortable or remind her that he and Fiona had ever been a thing. He’d come here to disassociate himself from that train of thought.
Nicole saw Viktor’s expression as if he were asking permission. As if to ask: Do you trust me? Of course she did, so she pushed him toward Fiona with a laugh.
Jon came around the table. He had a heavy, rolling gait, walking like he meant that little bit of swagger. They were laughing and everything was normal, except for the way he looked at her.
Maybe it’s everyone, she told herself though she couldn’t look away. That stare was legendary on and off the ice. Maybe it had the effect of melting everyone’s shoes to the floor, of making them feel guilty or weak. It wasn’t easy but she shook it away.
“Better step up your game, Toews,” she teased.
His face lit up like she’d offered him a challenge. “Oh, I will.”
That he did. Jon was better than he’d let on, and now he played with a quick efficiency. Fiona razzed him for throwing their games. Nicole sank a shot and he squeezed her arm, the backs of his fingers brushing her side.
Nothing, it’s nothing! she insisted silently. I told him no already.
Viktor sipped his beer and watched them having fun, watched Nicole charming everyone and fitting right in. He knew his friends would like her, and there was no one he’d shared more with than Fiona and Jon. If Fiona had ever cared about him at all, she’d make Nicole feel very welcome. After all, Fiona still owed him one.
Jon cleared the table with relative ease in just a few shots. Viktor gave up.
“Drinks are on us,” he conceded, steering Fiona toward the bar. She gave them a raspberry over one shoulder.
Oh God, don’t..., Nicole wanted to say but they had already walked off. The bar was pretty full, blocking sight lines once they were two tables away. Suddenly Nicole felt trapped inside a pen of bodies. She looked around for anything else to do, willing the time to pass. It wasn’t quick enough.
“Having fun?” The voice came from close behind, warm across her cheek. His presence was like a field of gravity. Nicole steeled herself and turned around.
“I am,” she said truthfully. It was hard to get words out with this dark eyes were boring holes into you. “Or I was.”
His expression broke a little - that crooked mouth twisting. “Do I make you nervous, Nicole?”
God, everything I say, he turns it around! she thought. Her arms folded protectively across her stomach. “Yes,” she was honest again.
Jon lifted his hand. His fingertips brushed lightly over her forearm, so gentle it almost didn’t happen. Goosebumps rose on her skin.
Nicole slapped it away, connecting with a solid whack. “I don’t know what you’re doing, Jonathan!” she hissed in a low voice.
That same hand grabbed her like a snake striking. As quickly as she’d knocked him away, he had her tiny wrist in his huge, firm grip. She gasped in surprise though it didn’t hurt. Jon leaned in close - at the last second his eyes flicked up, sensing movement in the crowd. He only had a moment. Before letting go he could only get one word out.